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Total WarAn Emotional History$
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Lucy Noakes, Claire Langhamer, and Claudia Siebrecht

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780197266663

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197266663.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM BRITISH ACADEMY SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.britishacademy.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright British Academy, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in BASO for personal use.date: 25 November 2020

The Tears of 1939: German Women and the Emotional Archive of the First World War

The Tears of 1939: German Women and the Emotional Archive of the First World War

Chapter:
(p.78) 5 The Tears of 1939: German Women and the Emotional Archive of the First World War
Source:
Total War
Author(s):

Claudia Siebrecht

Publisher:
British Academy
DOI:10.5871/bacad/9780197266663.003.0005

This chapter focuses on tearful reactions to the outbreak of war in 1939 as described and recalled by German women in diaries, memoirs, and oral histories. Women who were at different life stages in 1939 offer nuanced and explicit testimonies of their emotional responses, which were predominantly framed with references to the First World War. Retained memories of bereavement and hardship are particularly striking, and this chapter argues that both personal and familial experiences of the period between 1914 and 1918 were of key importance as they accumulated into an emotional archive. This emotional archive represented a crucial reference point for women to gauge a contemporaneous response to a political event—the outbreak of war in 1939. It also facilitated the construction of a personal stance and political positioning to war in a retrospective post-Second World War context. Women’s tears of 1939 were therefore about more than the outbreak of war; they were about owning and disowning different parts of their past.

Keywords:   emotion, emotional archive, tears, crying, memory, women, family history, First World War, Second World War, Germany

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